Ca­noe con­ser­va­tion

Canadian Geographic - - MISSING KIDS -

The trou­ble with birch­bark ca­noes, at least from a con­ser­va­tion per­spec­tive, is that they were orig­i­nally built as dis­pos­able trans­porta­tion de­vices — you could al­ways build another one. And if you’re a crit­ter from the for­est floor, they’re good to eat. That’s why the first step the restora­tion team at what is now the Mu­seum of History took in their work on the “Grand­fa­ther” ca­noe in 2007 was to freeze it to kill any mould or par­a­sites that might be lin­ger­ing in its cracks and crevices. From there, they worked me­thod­i­cally to clean the many sur­faces of the boat, oc­ca­sion­ally in­ject­ing ethanol with polyvinyl bu­tyral into holes and rot­ted ar­eas to clean and sta­bi­lize the wood. The ca­noe was then taken apart to re­pair bro­ken pieces — cracked bark, for in­stance, was fixed with con­ser­va­tion-grade pa­per made from Ja­panese mul­berry bark and wa­ter-sol­u­ble glue made of fish bones — and painstak­ingly put back to­gether again. (Be­cause of build­ing de­tails re­vealed by the degra­da­tion of ar­ti­facts, some very old birch­bark ca­noes are sim­ply sta­bi­lized to pre­serve all clues of their mak­ing rather than be­ing re­stored.) The en­tire process is time-con­sum­ing and del­i­cate, but an im­por­tant part of main­tain­ing ca­noe history.

The Enys ca­noe dates to the late 1700s and was par­tially re­stored be­fore be­ing re­turned to Canada from Eng­land in 2012.

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